Breaking Habits Part Three: Tolerating the Distress

Image result for ride the wave you can't stopThis is part 3 in our series about Breaking Habits. Did you miss the last post? You can read about it here.

Now, we know that we have a habit we want to break or change. We understand that there are steps we can take to do this, and we have a plan for how to achieve this. But then, like most new things - we start to make changes, and we feel uncomfortable. Worried. Anxious. Distressed. Angry. Fatigued.

On one hand - we want to make the changes. On the other hand, we try to make changes, and we feel distressed. We so desperately want to keep up these new habits, but the discomfort and unfamiliarity is not pleasant. We want to go back to the comfort, the familiar. 

Deep down, we know that the old, 'comfortable' habits were temporarily. They provided us with relief in the moment, but not in the long-term. And yet, this instant relief or freedom from discomfort is luring. This is when we need to practice distress tolerance. It is only by continuing to practice opposite actions that we can create new habits to replace old ones.

There are endless ways to keep yourself going in these times. One thing that is helpful to do is to remind yourself why you are doing this. Yes, you are not comfortable now. But these new changes are for your future happiness, success, joy, and health. So, you need to ride the wave. The discomfort, distress, and anxiety with these new changes are truly temporary, but you need to surf through them until they dissipate. Like a wave in a storm, if you try to resist it or fight against it, you will fall. But if you face the wave head-on and surf through it, you will persevere. 

Another thing that is helpful at these tines is practicing self-compassion. Self-compassion means being kind to yourself through your suffering - and not making it worse by criticizing yourself or your emotions. The next post will discuss this - stay tuned!

Task: how can you 'ride the wave' when making changes that you know are good for you, but uncomfortable? What can you do to help yourself tolerate the discomfort? 

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